Faulty metadata in Windows updates have been blamed for the sudden appearance of the HP Smart app on numerous PCs that were never connected to any of the company’s hardware, Windows Latest reports.
The issue was reported widely last week after several users on Reddit and Windows Latest journalist Maynak Parmar said the app was automatically installed on their systems without any user input.
In Parmar’s case, the HP Smart app appeared on his Lenovo Legion 5 Pro laptop and a virtual machine, neither of which had connected to any HP hardware.
For many users, attempting to uninstall the app would only result in it being reinstalled. For some, not even a clean Windows install could fix the problem for long.
Parmar investigated the issue further and found that a Windows 10 and Windows 11 update created a metadata mix-up.
This has resulted in the operating systems identifying all users’ printers as the HP LaserJet M101-M106.
Parmar located the metadata responsible for the problem in an XML file in the DeviceMetadataCache folder under Windows files.
This buggy metadata resulted in other printers’ names being rewritten to the name of the HP model and subsequently led to the Microsoft Store installing the HP Smart app.
Parmar said users could confirm if this were happening on their PC by opening the Devices and Printers section of the Control Panel.
If their machine received one of the faulty updates, they would see “HP LaserJet M101-M106” appear under the printer’s model name in its properties.
XDA Developers subsequently reported that Microsoft had since removed the faulty metadata from the Windows Update, so the issue should be fixed for those who performed a clean install.